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teaching to suggest prompts that engage cognition. Students must think about what they don’t

know, what they need to know, and what they would like to know. Asking questions is a

reciprocal strategy that allows students to infer and apply new information gleaned from the

musical lines and phrases.


In the musical ensemble, one goal for the conductor and the musicians is to make musical

sense of what is being played or sung. Difficult musical concepts, such as phrase, intonation,

dynamics, new vocabulary, or unfamiliar harmonic language, may render the music difficult to

understand. When asked to clarify, the student’s attention is called to consider the reasons why

the music is difficult to understand. For instance, students often have difficulty relating to music

of the Renaissance. They don’t understand the style and context and are unfamiliar with the

genre. They complain that such music is boring or uninteresting to perform. Placing the music

into a context that connects to the music they enjoy outside the ensemble helps to clarify

understanding. Students can be taught to be alert to such roadblocks and to take the necessary

measures to restore meaning.


In predicting, players and singers along with the conductor hypothesize the musical and

technical issues that will cause difficulty. When learning to sight read, students learn to predict

what will come next. Confirming or refuting such predictions by playing the music is one

purpose for rehearsal. Students in band, orchestra, or choir use clues such as cadences, motives,

and musical ideas embedded in the composition to formulate their predictions. This is an

opportunity to link new knowledge with knowledge already gained.


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